Thursday, January 24, 2008

Restaurants, Bars To Offer Shuttle Service

By Nao Braverman

Free rides after cocktails begins Friday on the hour from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Village Jester. Stops along the route include the Deer Lodge and The Hut. Call 640-8001 for the complete route.

The Ojai Valley had the misfortune of a significant number of tragic collisions since Dec. 11, resulting in four fatalities and some serious injuries.
The most recent serious accident involving Roger Avery, has reenforced the concern of driving under the influence in Ojai.
As a town with more night life than one might expect in such a small community, there is essentially no sensible or reliable public transportation after dark.
Even before the tragic accident involving Avary, Nigel Chisholm, owner of the new Ojai restaurant and bar establishment, The Village Jester, had an idea that would make it easier for community members to safely and legally enjoy a night on the town.
Beginning next week, local bars and restaurants are pooling funds to hire a weekend evening shuttle service that will circle local establishments, hourly, transporting passengers to various stops throughout the valley.
“As a new business owner I get asked two or three times a night to get a taxi service,” said Chisholm, “But there is presently no one reliable who I can call.”
The shuttle service is to leave the Village Jester from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m, Friday and Saturday evenings, leaving every hour on the hour. The exact route is still undecided. But organizers are considering stops from downtown, all the way to Boccali’s and back through town stopping near Vons, then heading to the Deer Lodge and Q-Time, south to Circle K and back. If passengers want to be taken home, they may be able to for a little extra charge, said Chisholm. The details are still being worked out.
But the biggest hurdle, finding a driver to do the job, has already been taken care of.
Dutch VanHemert, owner of Dutch Detail who also runs an airport shuttle service, readily agreed to take on the task. Since VanHemert is already operating a shuttle service, the vehicle and insurance coverage are conveniently at hand.
VanHemert said, “I think it will be a great service and I hope people will be smart enough to use it.”
Chisholm came up with the concept about a month ago and recently approached Ojai bar and restaurant owners, to see if they would participate and share costs of the service. So far participating establishments include local bars, the soon-to-be-reopened Hub, Movino’s, and restaurants Azu, tentatively the Deer Lodge, Q-Time, Feast Bistro, Il Giardino’s, Antonio’s, and, of course, the Village Jester, according to Chisholm.
Chisholm plans to approach Boccali’s, Sakura, and The Hut in the coming week to see if they are interested in participating.
Robert Chaing, owner of Giorgio’s said he was still undecided.
“It’s definitely a great idea. I’m not sure if it’s for us. My clients are beer and wine drinkers. We are more the family side,” said Chaing. “On the rare case that my customers get out of hand I take them home myself.”
With 10 establishments involved, the service will be paid for at a minimum cost to each, said Chisholm. The shuttle will either be free or cost a very small amount, to passengers, he said.
According to the Business and Profession Code 25602, anyone who serves alcohol to a habitual drinker or anyone obviously intoxicated is guilty of a misdemeanor. Though a law in 38 states makes any business selling alcoholic drinks to an obviously intoxicated person strictly liable to anyone injured by the drunk guest, in California that liability is limited to drunk minors, according to Leslie Pond, an investigator for the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
But Chisholm’s motives are more community service oriented. “As a servers of alcohol we have a moral responsibility to give people an opportunity to get home safely,”he said.
Though local alcohol servers say their staff is trained not to serve people who are obviously intoxicated, many believe the service could be a real asset to the community, and make the roads generally safer on weekends.
“We consider ourselves to be an upscale dining establishment with some people having wine before a meal,” said Laurel Moore, owner of Azu. “But there hasn’t been a taxi service for people to use, so I think it would be a very good idea.”
The service begins its six-month trial run next weekend.


catalina said...

What a wonderful idea. Cudo's to Jester, Q-Time and all. Often friends want to visit different establishments in one evening but cannot because there's no cab anymore so this will be such a welcome service. Now we just have to figure out how to get everyone home at evenings' end. Sure miss 'Touch of Class'.

Anonymous said...

Great idea!!!!

James Hatch said...

Why is it that I take so much heat for my blogs when nearly every idea I put forward ends up being adopted as policy. Once again, I hate to say I told you so!

Painted Hand Farm said...

Gone are the days when you wanted to go out on the town and not worry about drunk driving, you rode your horse. It wasn't that long ago when locals ended up at places like the Firebird, the *real* Deer Lodge and Maxie's on their trusty steeds that would get them safely home (via the Ojai Valley Trail, no less)regardless of their state of inebriation. Talk about environmentally correct! We were way ahead of our time. Bring back the hitching posts! Bring back the true character of Ojai.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hatch. Am I to believe that you are now attempting to take responsibility for this as your idea? Or, if not that, then that you were the catalyst for this? It is possibly true to say that there are no new ideas. The only difference is between those who think them and those who think them and then DO them. Get over yourself and send credit where credit is those local business owners who are stepping up for the benefit of the community.

James Hatch said...

When you bring the quailities of James Hatch to the table, maybe then can you comment upon giving credit where credit is due.

Let's face it, I was behind this plan. When James Hatch writes, people act. So where is credit due?

To the restaraunt owners, job well done for spearheading another great idea from the mind of James Hatch.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Donna Lloyd said...

I don't understand that last statement about Dutch. I've known him for years and he has always been a fun and kind person. I would totally trust anyone I know to ride in a vehicle with him. I think that remark was totally inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

Why is it the drinking establishments have to take responsibility to get people home? Why can't the "adults" take responsibility for their actions & just not drink too much? Oh wait, that would mean the drinking establishments wouldn't be able to sell as much liquor. How silly of me to think the drinking establishments would be responsible enough to not sell more alcohol to someone who's already had too much. Let's just provide them with a shuttle ride home instead.

Anonymous said...

Are you drunk, winding people up, or just having a bad day? You are displaying a limited thought process at best. Having said that, I am so glad that you are gracing the rest of us mere mortals with your insight(s) in order that we may all see, understand, and learn what is really afoot beyond the smokescreen of apparent do-goodery.